In the News
Vt. hospitals prepare for public hearings on budgets

Medical centers in Vermont have faced significant financial strains over the years and now it has all been intensified by COVID-19.

Hospitals have now filed budget requests with the Green Mountain Care Board for the coming fiscal year, ahead of the annual hospital budget review process.

The Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, which represents the system, is calling them "recovery budgets."

Our Dom Amato spoke with VAHHS President and CEO Jeff Tieman to learn more. Watch the video for the full interview.
Budget will help hospitals recover from COVID costs
Rutland Herald

In Vermont, hospitals file an annual budget for approval by the Green Mountain Care Board, but this year, the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems is calling the filings “recovery budgets,” as a result of the pandemic response.

Across the state, Vermont’s hospitals are suffering from a “double whammy,” which caused a collective loss of more than $200 million through the middle of 2020, according to Jeff Tieman, president and CEO of the hospital association known as VAHHS.

“Hospitals in Vermont, as they are around the country, are continuing to manage and recover from the financial distress caused by all the unexpected factors that came with COVID-19 including, most predominantly a drop in revenue when we stopped doing elective procedures and a correlating increase in expenses to make sure we could manage the new procedures and equipment and supply of PPE (personal protective equipment) that was needed,” he said.
State announces $275 million health care stabilization grants
Vermont Business Magazine

Governor Phil Scott, the Agency of Human Services, and the Department of Vermont Health Access announced today that Vermont’s Health Care Provider Stabilization Grant Program will launch on Friday, July 17, 2020. The grant program, first proposed by the Administration and amended by the Vermont Legislature, utilizes up to $275 million from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide direct cash grants to eligible health care and human service providers who have lost revenue and/or observed increased expenses due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

“Vermont’s health care and human service providers stepped up in a time of crisis,” said Governor Scott. “Their efforts, along with those of other Vermonters, saved lives. These health care and human service financial stabilization grants will be made directly to providers and are an essential next step in ensuring our health care system survives the economic impacts of the pandemic.”

The grants will be administered by the Agency of Human Services for a broad spectrum of health and human service provider types, spanning self-employed practitioners to peer services providers to hospitals. To ensure equity in the process and to encourage all eligible providers to seek funding, applicants will have four weeks to complete the application and grants will be awarded only after all applications have been received and in accordance with demonstrated need.
Joshua White: The end of the beginning of Covid

Roughly five months ago, the reality of the Covid pandemic was sinking in. Since then our nation’s response has been scattered at best. Here in Vermont we nervously enjoy what seems to be a bit of relative safety. Our mountains and dense forests have protected us thus far. There are no large cities, crowds are a rarity, and Covid has had difficulty finding foothold here.

We are grateful, yet remain wary of what looms across the border.

It is better here, but our new normal is characterized by loss. We are angry, we are sad, and we are all very tired. Our vacations have been canceled. Our children rage against lost freedom while we fret about the return to school. Celebrations with friends and family seem a distant memory. Our businesses suffer, and our elderly are locked away in isolation.

Covid fatigue. Can we do this? Can we wait for a vaccine? For our children, our neighbors, our families and our communities? It’s a rhetorical question. We must do this, and we are just getting started. It is a painful truth, but one we must acknowledge — we are only nearing the end of the beginning.
OneCare releases quality measure scores for performance year 2019
Vermont Business Magazine

OneCare Vermont is announcing all available quality measure scores for Performance Year 2019. As an Accountable Care Organization (ACO), OneCare is accountable for both the quality and cost of health care for attributed Vermonters and is committed to supporting providers as they work to reach quality targets.

Each year, health care organizations and providers in the ACO work to meet specific quality measures. Quality measures help OneCare assess health care processes, outcomes, and patient perceptions linked to high-quality health care delivery.

OneCare measures quality in four areas defined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services: preventive health, patient/caregiver experience, care coordination/patient safety, and at-risk populations.

In Vermont, OneCare is the vehicle for health care reform under the State’s All Payer Model, working with Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial insurance carriers to control costs and improve health outcomes. Quality measures are collected after each Performance Year and scored using national benchmarks and historical performance. Quality scores are measured separately for each payer program.
Vermonters struggle to get Covid-19 test despite claims of availability

When Elise Shanbacker recently came down with head cold symptoms, she decided to get a Covid test — just in case. Easier said than done.

All of the Vermont Department of Health 26 scheduled pop-up testing sites for the next two weeks were booked, with the exception of an Aug. 10 event in Canaan. There were no local options. Ultimately, the Vergennes resident drove 45 minutes to Walgreens in Essex Junction on Monday, and waited in line for two and a half hours to get a self-administered nose swab test.

Shanbacker took to social media to express her frustration. “People waiting in line behind me for well over an hour were turned away. Everyone who wants a test can get one?” she wrote on Twitter, questioning the state’s assertion that testing is widely available.

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